Six Things You Didn’t Know About Your Clitoris

When it comes to knowing your own body, the clitoris is the land of mystery for many women. But that’s understandable when you come to learn that the clitoris is a small yet complex organ containing numerous parts and more than 8,000 nerve endings. Keep reading to learn some interesting facts about the clitoris you may be unaware of:

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Your clitoris can become erect

Somewhat similar to the penis, the clitoris is extremely sensitive and can become erect when stimulated. As blood flow to the area increases and stimulation occurs, the clitoral hood retracts. For those unsure what the clitoral hood is, this is the flap of skin that sits inside the labia and covers the clitoris, protecting its thousands of nerve endings from stimulation most of the time. Clitoral hoods vary in size and they don’t all retract the same amount.

Your clitoris plays an important role in reaching climax

Somewhere between 50 and 75% of women cannot achieve climax through vaginal intercourse alone and instead need stimulation to the clitoris in order to reach orgasm. If you never orgasm during intercourse, you’re not alone and you can stop worrying that something is wrong with you. Clitoral orgasms are far more common and easier to achieve than vaginal, G-Spot, and cervical orgasms, and bring pleasure to many women.

No two are the same

Clitorises vary in shape, size, and sensitivity, and can be very different from woman to woman. Reaching climax through clitoral stimulation isn’t a “one approach fits all” situation, instead it varies from person to person. Sometimes, all you need is a bit of experimentation to figure out what works and feels best.

Much of the clitoris is inside the body

The average clitoris is somewhere between 1.5 and 2 centimeters in length, and interestingly contains far more than what meets the eye. Only about a quarter of the clitoris is visible outside the body, while the rest of it is tucked away inside. Some researchers speculate that a larger clitoris makes it easier for a woman to orgasm.

The older you are, the bigger your clitoris

Starting at birth, the clitoris grows throughout the lifespan, and experiences the most rapid growth around puberty. Many women find it surprising to learn that their clitoris will be larger when she’s in her 60’s than when she was in her teens. However, this growth is not noticeable.

The clitoris can be susceptible to problems

Like any other part of the body, the clitoris can encounter problems. Whether you’re dealing with pain during intercourse or throughout the day, itchiness, or any other discomfort, it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor. Many problems are simple and can be treated easily with antibiotics, creams, and other medications.

If you have any questions or concerns and want to speak with a knowledgeable doctor, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.

How Perimenopause Affects Your Period

We hear a lot about menopause and the way it impacts the female body, but there’s less talk about what happens beforehand—menopause doesn’t just come out of nowhere, after all. There’s a name for the gradual road towards menopause, and it’s called perimenopause. Perimenopause is essentially a transition into menopause during which the ovaries begin to produce less estrogen. It usually sets in when a women is in her mid-forties, but can start as early as the thirties or even twenties in some cases.

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Most of the time, perimenopause tends to last around three or four years, but it’s duration can be shorter or longer depending on the individual. One of the most notable symptoms you can expect to experience during this time is a changing menstrual period. For that reason, we’re going to fill you in on all the period-related changes you might encounter during this transitional life phase. To learn more about other changes during this time, we have another blog post on perimenopause has helpful information. Read it here.

Due to changing hormone levels and unpredictable ovulation, you can expect to experience some period irregularity during perimenopause. These changes run the gamut—you might skip a few periods, see spotting between periods, experience menstrual flows that are heavier or lighter than usual, or even those that last longer or shorter than you’re used to. Most of the time, you don’t need to be alarmed by these changes, as they’re common even among women who have experienced extremely regular periods for their whole lives. If two months or more pass by and you haven’t had a period at all, you’re probably in the later phases of perimenopause.

One thing to understand about how menopause affects the menstrual cycle is that it’s rarely the same from woman to woman. Some women don’t experience any intense symptoms, while others are greatly affected by things like heavy bleeding. Some women will experience inconsistent periods for months or years, whereas others see their menstruation end more suddenly.

During this time of period irregularity, your fertility will likely decrease, but it’s important to remember that as long as you’re still having your period, you can still get pregnant. If you’re using birth control to prevent pregnancy, you’ll want to keep doing so until you haven’t had your period for 12 months in a row. Once you hit this 12 month mark without a period, you’ve likely moved from perimenopause into menopause.

On a similar note, the irregularity of the menstrual cycle during perimenopause can bring changes like extreme hormonal shifts that can be hard to deal with. To regulate the menstrual flow, some women take low-dose hormonal birth control pills up until menopause. It’s smart to keep communication open with your doctor and fill them in on any atypical changes that arise during perimenopause. Things like heavy bleeding and spotting can be normal in perimenopause, but they can also happen when something else is going on in your body, so it’s always a good idea to tell your doctor what’s going on with your body.

If you have any concerns about perimenopause and the changes that happen to your body during that time, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 to set up an appointment with a knowledgeable doctor, or visit www.aoafamily.com.

Why Vaginal PH Matters: Everything You Need to Know

If you’ve been noticing some mysterious odors coming from your vaginal area and can’t seem to determine the cause, a vaginal PH imbalance might be the culprit. To help you better understand vaginal PH, let’s start by breaking things down: your vaginal PH refers to the acidity of the vagina and can be affected by common factors like unprotected sex, pregnancy, your menstrual period, improper vaginal care, and menopause.

Experiencing a vaginal PH imbalance is common, but since this health issue isn’t discussed all that much. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about vaginal PH levels gone awry.

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Healthy or not? Understanding vaginal PH levels

Most of the time, a healthy vaginal PH falls somewhere between 3.8 and 4.5.  Slight variations are normal, but when the PH falls above or below that range, this signals that the balance between good and bad bacteria in your vagina may be out of whack. Typically, when your PH balance is off, you’ll have elevated levels of bad bacteria and yeast in the body. When this happens, you might experience irritation, odors, and even conditions like bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection.

If you notice any of the following symptoms, it’s a good idea to get in touch with your doctor. Your vaginal PH levels might be off if you’re experiencing any of the following:

  • An abnormal burning sensation during sex or other forms of irritation.
  • Unpleasant and strong smells.
  • Sensations and discomfort that are out of the ordinary.
  • Grayish, green, or white discharge. Or if you’re experiencing different amount of discharge than usual.

Testing and treatment

Some pharmacies sell at-home tests you can use to test your vaginal PH levels, but remember that if you suspect something is off, the best thing you can do is see a doctor. The specific treatment for your vaginal PH imbalance will vary depending on how the imbalance manifests. For both hormonal imbalances and yeast overgrowth your doctor may treat you with an oral medication or a cream that gets applied to the skin.

Staying healthy

You can take active steps to maintain a healthy vaginal PH. For example, you’ll want to stay away from vaginal douching and the use of heavily scented soaps. These have potential to increase bacteria to unhealthy levels and are generally a bad idea and unnecessary. Other helpful practices for maintaining optimal PH levels include eating yogurt and taking probiotics regularly, using a condom during sex, and seeing your gynecologist yearly or whenever something seems wrong.

If you have any concerns about your vaginal PH and want to speak with a knowledgeable doctor, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.

Six Quick Tricks for Spicing Things Up in the Bedroom

As life goes on, our sexual needs and interests inevitably change—you may find yourself more interested in sex, less interested in sex, or completely indifferent to sex all together. The fact is, at any point in life there are going to be a ton of different factors that might influence your sex life or libido. These include your overall health, where you’re at in the aging process, past illnesses, your relationship with your partner, medications, and more. Since an active and healthy sex life is one of life’s greatest pleasures, we thought we’d fill you in on six tips for keeping your sex life healthy and exciting. Read on for the low-down.

Beautiful couple in love in morning

See a sex therapist

Many people would rather do almost anything than talk about their sex life with someone they don’t know. But seeing a sex therapist can be so helpful in spicing up your sex life that it might be time to get over your fears. Sort of like a visit to a psychologist or counselor, a sex therapist can help you unravel the psychological and physiological aspects of your sex life, while also helping you bring in more mindfulness and communication with your partner. Overall, this is a form of psychotherapy that can play a huge role in getting your sex life back on track.

Experiment with sex positions

Sometimes, when you find yourself uninterested in sex, there isn’t a complex underlying cause—you might simply be bored. Fortunately, this is one of the easiest situations to fix. One of the simplest ways to bring some excitement into the bedroom is to experiment with different sex positions. When experimenting with sex positions that typically fall out of your norm, you might find yourself being stimulated in new ways and enjoy the adventure of it all along the way. Start by setting a goal of trying one or two new positions each week for a month. Here are a few ideas for getting started, but with a creative imagination (or a quick google search!) the opportunities are endless.

Kindness counts: Show your partner you care

Introducing oils into the bedroom is a great way to slow things down and really pay attention to your partner. Find a nice oil and surprise your partner with a massage—you’ll be surprised at how quickly one thing might move to another from there.

Maybe massage isn’t your thing. If that’s the case, why not try cooking a romantic dinner for your partner? Wear something fancy and request the same of your partner, grab a nice bottle of wine, and enhance the atmosphere with candles and dim lighting. Even if your romantic evening doesn’t lead to sex, kind actions of this variety will almost certainly strengthen your relationship and leave your partner feeling appreciated.

Get flirty

Flirtation brings so much fun and excitement into the early stages of a relationship, but often disappears after things get serious. Whether it’s teasing, making serious eye contact, texting, or sexting, it’s important to remember that a bit of flirtation can go a long way in keeping your relationship and sex life thriving.

Stay on top of your sexual health

Your sexual health plays a huge role in your sex life. After all, when you’re not feeling right, you’re often far less interested in engaging in any form of sexual activity. It’s important to see and talk to your doctor about any signs that are troubling you or interfering with your sex life. This could mean anything from pain during sex or urination to new smells down there that you haven’t experienced before, or even simply when you’re experiencing a lack of interest in sex. And remember it’s not just sexual health that plays a role in your sex life—your overall health does too. Too keep things running smoothly, make sure you’re eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, exercising, and taking care of any health conditions you’re experiencing.

Change up your birth control

Many people don’t realize it, but hormonal birth control can have a big impact on your sex drive, depending how your body reacts with the type you’re taking. Most people don’t experience a change in libido from birth control pills, but some do. Some women see a rise in their libido, whereas others feel less desire for sex. If you notice a change in how you feel about sex since starting a new type of birth control, bring the issue up with your gynecologist. It’s important to keep your doctor in the loop so they can check for other underlying conditions and consider prescribing you a different type or method of birth control.

Remember that whenever you have concerns about your sex life or sexual health, it’s always a good idea to have an open and honest conversation with a health professional. To speak with a knowledgeable doctor, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.

When are Ovarian Cysts a Problem?

Ovarian cysts are a common health condition that many women experience at least once throughout the course of life. Most of these cysts only last a few months, don’t cause discomfort, and really aren’t a problem at all. But sometimes, they can be more troublesome.

Ovarian Cysts

Before we dig into the details of problematic cysts, it’s important that you’re well versed in the basics of this condition. First things first, you may be wondering—what is an ovarian cyst, anyway? Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that develop in or on one of a woman’s ovaries (every woman has two ovaries—one on either side of the uterus).

During a typical menstrual cycle, every woman of reproductive age may develop several small cysts. A cyst is where your eggs grow and it’s where estrogen production occurs. Only 1 or 2 of these cysts will mature, rupture, and produce an egg ready for ovulation. If the small cyst doesn’t ovulate, or heal well after ovulation, a persistent cyst can occur.

Usually, these cysts are small, painless, and don’t even produce symptoms. Many are so asymptomatic that a cyst may develop and resolve itself without a woman even noticing its presence. But sometimes, these cysts can be more problematic—especially when they rupture, cause pain, or exist as a cancerous mass.

When Pelvic Cysts Become a Problem

Here’s a bit more information on the more troublesome varieties of pelvic cysts:

Cystic ovarian mass: Most commonly, these can be cancerous after menopause. To identify conditions like these, it’s very important to visit your gynecologist for pelvic exams each year, or whenever you’re experiencing pain or discomfort that’s out of the ordinary.

Ovarian torsion: This is a condition in which a cyst grows large enough that it causes the ovary to move and twist. It can be particularly problematic if it blocks the blood flow to the ovaries. You may know you’re experiencing ovarian torsion if you suddenly develop serious pelvic pain along with vomiting and nausea.

Ovarian cyst rupture: The larger a cyst grows, the higher the chances of a rupture. When an ovarian cyst ruptures, you may experience internal bleeding and serious amounts of pain, so be sure to see a physician if you’re experiencing intense pelvic pain. Sometimes, vaginal intercourse or other forms of vigorous activity that impact the pelvis can increase the risk of a rupture.

Endometrioma: An endometrioma is a cystic mass brought about by endometriosis, which is a condition where the uterine lining grows outside the uterus. With this condition, the cysts can have a negative impact on a woman’s fertility.

What to Look Out For

As we mentioned earlier, many ovarian cysts don’t produce any signs at all. However, you may experience the following symptoms when an ovarian cyst is present, especially as it grows:

  • Painful bowel movements
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Lower back pain
  • Pain in the pelvis before or during your menstrual cycle
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Nausea or vomiting

When a cyst ruptures, you may experience a few more serious signs, including pain that’s accompanied by fever or vomiting, or sudden and severe pelvic pain. If you are dealing with any of these, seek out medical help as soon as possible to avoid more serious complications.

Treating Ovarian Cysts
Physicians will often choose to monitor a cyst if it isn’t causing any trouble. But when a cyst is growing and growing or doesn’t resolve itself after a few months, your doctor may recommend a treatment to remove the cyst or at least bring it down in size.

Here are a few common treatments you might encounter: Some doctors prescribe birth control pills to prevent new cysts from developing. If a doctor wants to remove a cyst, they may prescribe or perform laparoscopy, which is a minimally invasive surgery that involves just a small incision in the abdomen. In other cases, particularly those involving larger ovarian cysts, a physician may choose to perform laparotomy, which is a more invasive surgical procedure.

To protect yourself against problematic ovarian cysts, it’s important to visit your gynecologist for regular pelvic exams and to seek treatment whenever you’re experiencing signs and symptoms that feel of the ordinary. If you have any concerns about potentially problematic ovarian cysts and want to speak with a gynecologist who is knowledgeable about this condition, contact Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.